FOI Friday: Council credit cards, mental health beds crisis, schools with asbestos and 50 Shades of Grey…

FOI ideas image: Yarn Deliveries

So, what are councils using credit cards for at the moment? < Bristol Post

Taxpayers in Bristol have been footing the bill for council workers to stay in expensive hotels, eat at posh restaurants and buy designer clothes, the Bristol Post has learned.

Almost £680,000 was spent on Bristol City Council payment cards last year, with thousands of pounds spent on fast food, cinema trips, iTunes downloads and orders from online retailer Amazon.

Figures obtained by the Post under Freedom of Information rules show that in 2014, an average of £1,860 a day was spent on council procurement cards, which are used by council workers to pay for expenses like travel, office supplies and catering.

Mentally ill patients held in prison cells because no hospital beds are available < Swindon Advertiser

A SWINDON patient had to spend almost two days in a police cell under the Mental Health Act because there was nowhere else for them to go.

Figures released after a Freedom of Information request show that in the past two years almost 200 people have been held in Wiltshire Police cells because there was no suitable healthcare provision.

The longest holding period was 37 and a half hours, while a 16-year-old was detained for eight hours.

Ninety-four people were detained in Swindon and Wiltshire in 2013 and in 2014 the figure was 95.

How many schools contain asbestos? < Nelson Leader

Teaching leaders claim lives are being put at risk after it was revealed more than 90% of Lancashire schools contain asbestos.

Figures obtained after a Freedom of Information request reveal as many as 41 schools in the Burnley and Padiham area could be classed as being “at risk”, as well as a further 38 in Pendle and 22 in the Ribble Valley.

Fires at hospitals < Derry Journal

There were 11 malicious fires at Western Trust health and care facilities last year, including two at children’s homes in Derry and a third at Gransha Hospital.

The latter involved a deliberate ignition in the Cedar part of Gransha, which deals with male and female patients with enduring mental health issues.

There was another malicious fire within the grounds of the Nurses’ Home at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The £100,000 library fines business < Ripon Gazette

Fines issued at Harrogate Library are higher than any other in North Yorkshire.

According to a Freedom of Information request (FOI), the library has issued fines of almost £160,000 since 2011, including more than £4,000 in the first months of 2015.

How useful are speed cameras? < Essex Courier

campaigners believe roads could be made safer by relocating a “pointless” speed camera.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Courier revealed huge discrepancies in the amount of people caught speeding by cameras in Tonbridge and Malling.

While cameras such as the one on the A228, Seven Mile Lane, in East Peckham flashed 743 offenders last year, the mobile camera on the A26 through Hadlow has detected just seven in the same period.

In total there are just six fixed and mobile speed cameras throughout the borough. Another underused camera is the fixed device on the B245, London Road, where just 21 speeders were flashed in 2014.

Reports of aliens < Birmingham Mail

t’s out of this world – West Midlands Police has dealt with 23 reports of ALIENS in just four years.

Three of the cases concerned alien abduction plots while two others claimed attacks were mounted by extra terrestrials.

Four more were reports of people talking to or hearing aliens, while the majority – 14 – were sightings of little green men.All the cases were reported between 2011 and last July.


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